Category Archive: financing

  1. Taking Multi-Modal Transport to Scale

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    Americans have been driving less every year since 2007. This shift has been accompanied by regional and local planning efforts that are increasingly focused on giving residents transportation options that go beyond the automobile. There has been lots of positive momentum around transit expansion, planning for complete streets, and adopting initiatives aimed at making streets safer for people who ride bikes and walk. As planners, advocates, and their allies continue to make major multi-modal policy wins, groups are now focusing on the next big challenge. How do we translate successful experiments and policies at the local level to scalable interventions with adequate, sustainable funding? And how do we ensure that these interventions are implemented in a manner that reduces the systemic inequalities that characterize our existing transportation network? (more…)

  2. May Revise Brings Redevelopment Dissolution Tweaks

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    Last week Governor Brown released a revised 2015-2016 budget that accounted for greater-than-expected growth in the state’s tax rolls. The panoply of talking heads, advocates, and policy wonks have already dissected the potential effects the new budget may have on higher education, the state’s rainy day fund, and the state’s social safety net. So instead of rehashing those stories, we’re focusing our attention on updates to the redevelopment dissolution process. (more…)

  3. Time to Ditch the Highway Trust Fund

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    In what has become the norm for transportation finance in the U.S., the national Highway Trust Fund is once again on the brink of insolvency. Everyone acknowledges that the federal gas tax meant to finance transportation infrastructure – and left unchanged since 1993 – can’t keep up with the country’s growing transport needs. And while low gas prices have state and national politicians mulling an oft-contemplated (but rarely successful) attempt to raise fuel taxes, it may be time to consider a completely different tactic. In the face of dwindling fuel tax revenue, state governments are trying new approaches to finance transportation improvements. Can these state experiments transform transportation at the national level? (more…)

  4. Shedding Light on Public Subsidies for Private Development

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    Development (Compressed)

    Image from James Willamor:

    Bringing Transparency to Tax Breaks for Private Development

    Governments have any number of programs, policies, and perks at their disposal to woo private developers to invest in their region. Nationwide, local governments give up $80.4 billion in incentives, with Texas earning the designation as the nation’s most incentive-inclined state, spending $19.1 billion annually to court businesses.

    While high-profile deals to attract investment in state and local economies often involve generous tax breaks and incentives that are well documented by the media, there is no nationwide accounting for these tax-payer subsidies. But that may change with new rules proposed by the Governmental Accounting Standards Board. If local governments are forced to disclose subsidies for private development, will that change the economic development landscape? And how should the public and policymakers use this information? (more…)

  5. The Road to Environmental Equity

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    In less than six months, California’s cap-and-trade program will expand to include suppliers of natural gas and motor fuels, requiring the producers of these greenhouse gas-emitting fuels to pay for the privilege of polluting our atmosphere. This will likely result in a modest uptick in gasoline prices across the state, which has major oil companies  (and some lawmakers) crying foul about the equity implications of higher costs that will be passed on to consumers. But is there any merit to the argument that cap-and-trade is bad for low-income drivers? (more…)

  6. The Storm Next Time

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    Image from Washington State Dept of Transportation:

    Image from Washington State Dept of Transportation:

    The issue of how to pay for dealing with stormwater runoff into the Santa Monica Bay has begun to engulf all urbanized areas in Los Angeles County. While the impacts are most acutely felt by coastal cities such as Santa Monica and Hermosa Beach, inland cities are grappling with how to manage urban runoff. Recent court decisions found Los Angeles County liable for stormwater pollution in the San Gabriel and Los Angeles Rivers. The latest ruling simply underscores the reality that all municipalities, regardless of their proximity to the coast, will be required to be more proactive in stormwater management. So how do we finance stormwater infrastructure improvements with limited funding for infrastructure projects? (more…)

  7. Alternative Models for Maintaining Affordability


    The creation and maintenance of affordable housing has become more and more difficult to finance, especially in California. The demise of redevelopment agencies eliminated a significant source of funding, and the Great Recession has left many municipalities bereft of funds to finance low- and moderate-income housing. In the absence of government funding, private capital is beginning to fill the void. (more…)

  8. Governor’s Budget Highlights

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    California Governor Jerry Brown released his proposed budget for the state earlier this month. While the state’s fiscal fortunes have improved [PDF], the governor’s spending proposals strike a measured tone, with a focus on building up the state’s reserves and making deferred payments to schools that were hard-hit during the recession. The budget underscores the governor’s support for two major infrastructure projects – implementation of the Statewide Water Action Plan (including a fix for the Bay Delta) and financing for high speed rail. It also includes funding for green projects and throws support behind an economic development tool that may fill the void left by redevelopment’s demise. (more…)